UMR–IWW. The draft feasibility study must better integrate environmental and social considerations into the ultimate decision of whether the locks are to be extended. Within the environmental assessments, an improved assessment study of the system-wide and cumulative effects of the existing navigation system on river ecology is needed. The Corps' progress in its environmental investigations is clearly hampered by the lack of data that such a study would provide, and new studies may be needed to meet these information needs. The federal Environmental Management Program should conduct both ecological studies and navigation effects studies; this would provide better coordination to these efforts and assure more useful input into the feasibility study.
In addition to these three broad areas for improvement, the Corps should conduct the feasibility study under an adaptive management paradigm, the study should be better coordinated with of other government agencies responsible for assessing and managing aspects of the Upper Mississippi River–Illinois Waterway system, and it should be conducted with periodical review from an independent, interdisciplinary panel of experts.
This report's recommendations should be viewed from two different perspectives: those that can be implemented immediately, and those that will require more time and a more significant commitment of resources and interagency cooperation. While some of the report's recommendations may entail sustained efforts over many years (e.g., navigation's system-wide, and cumulative, effects on the river ecosystem), others could be implemented quickly (e.g., nonstructural measures for improved waterway traffic management).
The Corps is to be commended for the advances in the draft studies. This committee offers its suggestions for improvement with full realization of the analytical complexities that the studies entail, plus an appreciation that some UMR–IWW stakeholder groups may care more about the study 's recommendations than the soundness of its methods. This report's findings and recommendations are offered constructively and with appreciation for the Corps' strong efforts and significant achievements in their study of tremendous national interest and importance on the Upper Mississippi River–Illinois Waterway.